31 Aug 2021: Last US troops leave Afghanistan, ending 20-year war; Taliban celebrates
The last of US soldiers have left Afghanistan, finishing a complicated withdrawal and bringing an end to America's longest-running war. Celebratory gunfire was heard across Kabul in the early hours of Tuesday as Taliban officials hailed the event. Both the start and end of US mission in Afghanistan was marked by the Taliban rule, the group which has taken over the country once again.
Details: Final US flight left late on Monday
The withdrawal came before the end of August 31, the deadline set by US President Joe Biden for the process as the final flight left at 19:29 GMT on Monday, reported AFP news agency. "I'm here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens," US General Kenneth McKenzie told reporters.
Fact: Defense Department shares picture of last American soldier to leave
Quote: US flew over 1,23,000 people out of Kabul
"Tonight's withdrawal signifies both the end of the military component of the evacuation but also the end of the nearly 20-year mission that began in Afghanistan shortly after September 11th, 2001," General McKenzie added. He said the US flew more than 1,23,000 people out of Kabul, but admitted that not everyone who wanted to leave was able to do so.
Fact: 100-200 US citizens, thousands of Afghan allies left behind
Despite assurances by Biden and other top officials, many American citizens and Afghan allies were still left behind. Between 100 and 200 US citizens and thousands of their Afghan allies will have to wait longer to be airlifted, reported The Wall Street Journal.
Developments: American withdrawal troubled by panic and chaos
America's final days in Afghanistan were marked by chaos. Soon after the Taliban takeover, thousands of Afghans swarmed the Kabul airport making desperate attempts to flee. Many lost their lives. On Thursday, a deadly bombing outside the airport claimed the lives of nearly 200 Afghans and 13 US service members. Further, a drone strike by the US against terrorists reportedly killed 10 Afghan civilians.
Taliban: 'Full independence': Taliban celebrates the US pullout
The Taliban, which regained control of Afghanistan a fortnight ago, is celebrating the US pullout. "American soldiers left the Kabul airport, and our nation got its full independence," Taliban chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Tuesday. Meanwhile, several Taliban fighters entered the Kabul airport, wearing US military uniform and examining Chinook helicopters stationed there, after the withdrawal.
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